Chris Parker, who has been sleeping rough in Manchester for about a year, said that instead of fleeing when he heard the bang, he headed inside the venue and tried to help.
The 33-year-old said the blast “knocked him to the floor” but “instead of running away my gut instinct was to run back and try and help”. “I saw a little girl … she had no legs. I wrapped her in one of the merchandise T-shirts and I said ‘where is your mum and daddy?’
She said ‘my dad is at work, my mum is up there’.
He said he thought the child’s mother had died from her injuries.
Mr Parker, who was intending to ask concert-goers for money as they headed home, also went to help a woman who had serious leg and head injuries.
He said: “She passed away in my arms. She was in her 60s and said she had been with her family.
“I haven’t stopped crying.
“The most shocking part of it is that it was a kids’ concert.
“There were nuts and bolts all over the floor. People had holes in their back.
“It’s the screams I can’t get over and the smell … I don’t like to say it but it smelled like burning flesh.
“I don’t think anything has sunk in yet. It’s just shock.”
People across Manchester offered up rooms for those affected by the suspected attack and taxi drivers provided free lifts as road closures left survivors unable to get home.
Among them were Jen Leigh and Leah Solomon, both 19, who were outside a city centre hotel last night offering help to anyone who needed it.
Jen said: “Ambulances were coming past my house – dozens of them, one after another. We just wanted to help. People in this city help each other. We’re like a massive family.”